Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Obama Refuses to Endorse Sanders or Clinton. Is That Normal?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Obama Refuses to Endorse Sanders or Clinton. Is That Normal?

Article excerpt

President Barack Obama will not publicly support a presidential candidate until after the primaries, White House chief of staff Denis McDonough told Chuck Todd on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday.

It is unusual, and perhaps unbecoming, for a sitting president to endorse a candidate from his own party before the primaries, particularly when the outcome remains in doubt: According to recent poll aggregation by Real Clear Politics, Sanders is beating Clinton in New Hampshire, 50 percent to 46 percent. But Clinton is ahead of Sanders in Iowa, 48 percent to 45 percent.

In a New York Times op-ed Thursday, Mr. Obama offered what some see an additional reason for his reluctance to back a candidate: Gun control.

"I will not campaign for, vote for or support any candidate, even in my own party, who does not support common-sense gun reform," wrote the president.

And when asked if Senator Sanders' gun policy warrants executive approval, McDonough said Obama's statement doesn't exclusively apply to the presidential primary - it extends into all upcoming elections, be it presidential, congressional, or gubernatorial.

"At least he will see who the nominee is at the end of [the primary], that's not our job," says McDonough. "That's the job of the party to make those decisions and then they'll take a look at the agendas and the positions of those candidates, then we'll make some final decisions."

Mr. Todd then specifically asks McDonough if Obama's withheld support can be attributed to the issue of gun control.

"No," responds McDonough, "the President is saying that across the board he's going to be a single issue voter on this. He thinks that makes sense, given the enormity of the challenge. 30,000 deaths a year."

And regardless of Obama's unprecedented position as a single- issue voter on gun control, his chief of staff says the president will follow protocol. …

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